Ministry celebrates 25 years

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 7, 2010



LAPLACE – From its humble beginnings as a clergy alliance made up of representatives from area churches, the St. John Ministry of Care has grown into a reliable source of aid for the downtrodden in St. John Parish.

The organization, which is staffed completely by volunteers who offer an average of 10 to 16 hours of service per week, marked its 25th anniversary last month.

“Our devoted staff of volunteers (which, coincidentally, currently stands at 25) is as strong as ever,” said Ministry of Care President Rose Ann Brady. “That is the real milestone worth celebrating here.”

Brady explained the Ministry is a group devoted to assisting residents and families in the parish who are in a crisis situation and need some immediate form of aid whether it be food, rent, utilities or even prescription drugs.

“Many don’t realize it, but we are the only organization in the parish with these kinds of services to help people,” Brady said. “It is immediate assistance where they need it most.”

The group offers up aid on a case-by-case basis through caseworkers trained by Catholic Charities members. Ministry caseworker Marsha Mabile said there is a certain set of rules for each situation that a caseworker deals with.

“We are only allowed to spend so much in a given month so we do our best to spread our funding as far as we can,” Mabile said. “We also make an effort to get the client to assume some of the responsibility of the crisis. We are offering them a leg up and a way out — not just a hand out.”

Brady said the Ministry is funded through grants from the United Way and FEMA, which set a standard for how much the caseworkers can offer for rental assistance, utility payments or other bills. She said the assistance is designed to be a one-time only offering.

“We have some that come in more frequently than others, so we do have to set limits,” Brady said. “But we never turn anyone away outright. If we can’t help them, we find some other organization in the area that can.”

Brady said in 2009, the group was able to provide 415 area children with toys for Christmas and also foot the bill for about 135 food baskets for Thanksgiving. She said the Ministry also provided meals for more than 325 people.

“I’ve been so fortunate in my life, that I just felt I had to give something back,” said Brady on volunteering with the Ministry. “It really is rewarding. Even when you can’t do everything they need, some of those who come through the doors just thank you for talking to them and sharing info with them.”

Mabile agreed and added that it is about treating people with a little bit of respect.

“They have been knocked around so much,” said Mabile. “They are just looking for someone who listens and who cares — that is why we are here.”